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Philippine NGO, partners step-up awareness on hypertension


By Philippine News Agency

The Philippine Society of Hypertension (PSH) is set to embark on different activities to strengthen the “Blood Pressure Awareness” on adult and children to stem the tide of hypertension which remains to be the leading cause of death in the country and worldwide.

The PSH made the announcement in a press briefing citing how half of the population of hypertensive Filipinos can be unaware of their conditions.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 deaths annually among Filipinos could be directly attributable to high BP condition.

An equal number of deaths may be indirectly linked also to high BP.

In a press briefing during the Thursday opening of their 22nd Annual Convention (February 23-25), the PSH together with Philippine Lipid and Atherosclerosis Society (PLAS) cited that that there are many Filipinos who continue to be unaware or do not know that they have high blood pressure and can be compared to “walking time bombs.”

“They are called as such because anytime, they could “explode” to develop complications like a massive stroke, acute myocardial infarction and even sudden cardiac death,” said Dr. Rafael Castillo, past president of PSH and Asian Pacific Society of Hypertension (APSH) and currently a member of International Society of Hypertension (ISH).

Dr. Castillo said that, sometimes, a person may not be aware of his/her hypertensive condition and will just be surprised upon finding out because they are not aware nor feel any symptom/s attributable to high BP.

Castillo warned that such was not an isolated condition and others therefore should be aware that monitoring their BP is very important.

“It only takes a few minutes to have one’s BP checked. Everyone must know his/her BP, ” advises Dr. Castillo.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study done covering the 2003-2009 period described the prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension in rural and urban communities in the high, middle and low income countries.

The multinational population study showed that less than 46.5 percent are aware they have high BP, while the control rate was dismally poor at 13.1 percent.

“If more than 50 percent of adult people don’t know they are hypertensive, much more among our pediatric patients,” said Dr. Lynn Gomez, president of PSH.

Gomez added that every time she has a pediatric patient with hypertension, the parent’s usual reaction is to ask why and how.

In recognition of that “existing problem,” she said that they had laid down different activities to make the awareness campaign strong in the coming years.

In celebration of the World Kidney Day (WKD) this March, Gomez said they will conduct more lay forum activities to spread awareness on hypertension among adults and children.

She said that one of the topics will be centering on the “fast foods impact on children” in order to address the problem on obesity among children.

She said obesity among children is also the result of a sedentary lifestyle wherein children nowadays are staying longer in front of televisions and the Internet, eating frequently on fastfood chains and busy on other modern gadgets. This lifestyle discourages children from actively moving which causes their body to store excessive fats, oil and salt.

Professor Neil Poulter, ISH president, who spoke during the plenary session on “BP control: A Global Challenge,” agreed that hypertension among the young is increasing because of obesity and the existing system wherein BP measurement among children were not normally done.

“Because we don’t measure kids and their proportion, we don’t know (how) high, we don’t know,” said Poulter.

Dr. Castillo said adding to the problem of obesity is the misconception that young people don’t develop hypertension, heart disease, and even kidney disease.

He said parents sometimes even agree to allow their kids to eat a lot of fatty and oily foods.

“The adult segregates a portion of their fatty foods and they give them to their children because they think their children will not likely develop cardiovascular problems,” he said.

He added that from that perspective alone, one can see that the problem actually starts from childhood.

As a way to increase awareness on hypertension, the doctors encourage active participation in the “May Measurement Month 2017” (MMM17), one of the major activity under the observance of the World Hypertension Day (WHD).

Through the activity, ISH member-countries including the Philippines, in partnership with World Hypertension League (WHL), would achieve the target of screening at least one percent of their respective population.

Under the plan, a specially-designed “App” will be made available to collect all the BP screening data to help in saving lives against hypertension-related complications.

High blood pressure is a medical condition, wherein the blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal, usually when blood pressure is measured at being higher than 140 over 90 mmHg.

It is also considered as a “lifestyle disease” as it is caused by physical inactivity, salt-rich diets with processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use. (PNA)

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